The idea behind this project was to build the ultimate BMW using the best of the best from their line up. Some may argue whether or not the E30 M3 had much to improve on in the first place. Of course, it didn’t! The E30 M3 is and always will be a great performer in factory trim and truly is a classic. We’ve simply used the E30 M3 as a platform to build a whole new breed of the BMW M series.
To start we stripped the car of everything suspension, engine and drive train related and trashed it. KIDDING… we sold it to a few lucky E30 owners. But come to think of it, nothing except for a few body panels and interior trim remain. That was the easy part.
E90 Parts, Chassis, Roll Cage
Next, all new E90 (05-11 3 series) front and rear subframes including all associated suspension components were purchased and assembled on a chassis jig to fit within the stock body of the E30 M3. To achieve this, the stock front frame rails were removed and new rails were constructed to secure the new subframe. We even raised and relocated the front shock towers to allow proper E90 suspension travel and geometry. The rear of the car was completely cut, gutted and removed. All sheet metal GONE. Again, we fabricated new frame rails, shock towers, spring perches, wheel tubs etc. to adapt the new E90 subframe and suspension package.
Many have asked us, where’s the rest of the roll cage? Look a little closer. The roll cage was integrated “into” the chassis. The A and B pillars have been sectioned and removed. The bars were inserted into the chassis making the cage invisible minus the rear bars by design.
The M5 V10 and 6 Speed Manual
Now for the part, everyone’s been waiting for, the infamous S85 V10 power plant. Although a 5.0L V10 does the job, even better Dinan later provided us with their 5.7L stroker motor. This motor was chosen for obvious reasons and it’s been matched up with the M5 6 speed manual transmission, differential, and half-shafts. The engine installation actually started during the suspension assembly on the chassis jig. The E90 front sub frame was reconstructed among other things to accommodate the V10. Firewalls generally get in the way when stuffing big motors into little cars so the firewall and transmission tunnel were removed and new panels fabricated to fit the engine and trans. We’re extremely pleased with the placement of the engine. In fact, the top of the cylinder heads are practically level with the top of the tire.
It took some engineering to tackle the induction and exhaust systems. Room was very limited but we made it happen. The exhaust system utilizes modified factory headers and our stainless steel dual exhaust system. Having both canisters exiting through the center of the rear bumper just made sense. A custom intake manifold and air boxes were fabricated to fit within the factory hood. Later, the original 5.0L V10 was damaged and replaced with the Dinan stroker. To accommodate the stroker motor a new manifold was fabricated and now bulges through the bonnet. It looks AWESOME.
Wiring & Electronics
For wiring and tuning, we teamed up with the best in the biz, Apex Speed Technology. They worked with a Pectel SQ6M12 management system and wired the car headlight to taillight. They made multiple trips, spent countless hours, nights and weekends and we couldn’t be happier with the results. There are many neat features that one would never expect to see on an E30. Such as programmable and adjustable traction control, multiple ECM MAPS including valet mode or as we call it “stock mode”, variable camshaft control for all 4 cams (yes the VANOS works!), electronic throttle control for both throttle banks, driver select-able anti-lock brake system, Digital Pi OMEGA dashboard with multiple pages to monitor all vital functions and a Ole Buhl Racing power management system with electronic load control and power distribution. Very impressive and the car drives extremely well.
Body Work & Paint
As you could imagine, with the new suspension and wheel combo the fender clearance became an issue. So we’ve extended the front and rear fender flares to accommodate the wider track. This gave it a more aggressive, but subtle look.
After the metal fabrication was finished our friends at Old School Enterprises took on the bodywork and paint. After a very short turn around time the car was back at the shop with a beautiful, no tint silver paint job. The attention to detail was outstanding. With bodywork and paint to such a high degree, the M3 hardly looks modified. It takes a second glance from most to notice any modifications.
Last but not least the guys from Ai Design took delivery of the interior installation. They are responsible for the factory like finish INSIDE the car. The new transmission tunnel and roll cage were hidden well and the diamond pattern rear seat delete is outstanding.
The Franken M3 is finished (it’s actually been finished for a few years, oops!) and puts down impressive power. It has a new car smell which is awkward for a late 80’s machine. However when the motor fires you quickly remember this is no ordinary M3.